Travel Themed Session Plan Inspiration

One of my favorite things to share is session plan ideas, because I know how valuable it is to have new ideas and get inspired by what others are doing! I have been using these interventions with a few of my groups and they have been really successful! Here are some ideas for your own session plans: 

 

Question of the Day: Where Do You Want to Travel? 

  1. MT uses a melodic cue to prompt the question to each client individually 
  2. “Where Do you want to travel?”
  3. MTI will sing “Conversations”, and ask each where they would like to travel
  4. Adaptation: MT can use a visual with photos of different options for answers for nonverbal clients

 

Songwriting: In the Jungle

  1. MT introduces and sings song “In the Jungle” with group 
  2. MT explains that we will be rewriting the song with different places and different animals to make our own song 
  3. MT gives each client the opportunity to pick a location and an animal to fill in blanks of song 
  4. Group sings new verse together 
  5. Example: 

 

In the ________________________

The mighty _________________

The ____________ Sleeps tonight 

 

  1. Places:  
    1. Jungle
    2. City
    3. Forrest 
    4. Dessert 
    5. Rain-forest 
    6. Arctic 
    7. Ocean
  2. Animals: 
    1. Peacock 
    2. Elephant 
    3. Puppy 
    4. Bear 
    5. Lion 
    6. Dolphin 
    7. Polar Bear

 

Sing-A-Long with Instruments: Song choice: Travel Themed

  1. MT prompts one client to pick a song from the song choice visual (photos representing each song)
  2. Group sings song and plays instruments together 
  3. Song options: 
    1. She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain
    2. A Whole New World 
    3. Home on the Range 
    4. Fly Me to the Moon 
    5. This Land is Your Land
    6. I’ve been Workin’ on the Railroad

 

Relaxation:  What a Wonderful World 

  1. MT prompts group to take deep breaths all together 
  2. MT sings What a Wonderful World, prompting client to continue deep breathes 

 

Attention: Travel Visuals Listening

  1. MT passes out pictures of different travel items to each client (passport, globe, suitcase, car, airplane, etc.)
  2. MT prompts group to listen for their object for their chance to hold it up for the group
  3. MT sings song  “We’re Going on a Trip” (any melody or words works for this intervention. One option that works well is using the melody of “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain”)

Travel Attention Song:

We are going on a trip 

Together today 

We have lots of things we need to bring along  X2

 

We need a SUITCASE 

To pack all of our clothes 

Who has the suitcase 

Lift it in the air! 

We need a PASSPORT 

So we know where to go 

Who has the passport 

Lift it in the air! 

We’ve got a SUITCASE and a PASSPORT 

(song continues with each new item added on and then reviewed)

3. MT sings this song until all items have been done

 

I hope this helps you think of some new ideas for your session plans! 

 

See you next time!

Audrey Cosgrove, MTI

Valentine’s Day Inspiration!

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, so it’s  a great time to share some fun Valentine’s Day Interventions and exercises.  I am so excited to get the chance to do some themed sessions for Valentine’s Day, it is such a fun holiday!

 

Songwriting: I Love the Mountains

Materials: Songwriting sheet (for lyrics), heart tree and hearts (made via google images-see image below), expo marker, visuals for non-verbal clients

Goal areas: emotional expression, decision-making/choices, social connection with peers

  1. Music therapist introduces and sings song “I Love the Mountains” with group and prompts group members to sing on “Boom-de-ada” portion or play along on instruments
  2. Music therapist shows group “Heart tree” to place hearts with what clients love
  3. Music therapist asks group what things they love, using visual of options to prompt answers, especially for non-verbal clients
  4. Music therapist writes down client response on a heart, and prompts them to place it on the tree
  5. Once all hearts have been filled and all clients have answered, music therapist puts these into song “I Love the Mountains” 
  6. Music therapist sings song and acknowledges what each client said (if done in a one-on-one session

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Social Skills Hearts:

Materials: social skills hearts (made via google images and text-boxes), tambourine or other container to pass, bluetooth speaker 

Goal: social skills, social interaction, making choices/decisions

  1. MT puts hearts with social skills questions written on them inside of a tambourine 
  2. MT plays the song “Count on Me” by Bruno Mars on bluetooth speaker 
  3. MT prompts clients to pass tambourine around the circle.
  4. When the music stops, whoever has the tambourine draws a heart out of it and answers the question inside 
  5. This continues until all clients have answered a question/drawn a heart
  6. Adaptations: : for non-verbal clients, create a visual with photo options for answers to each question, so that everyone can participate! You can also use a microphone to motivate verbal responses from individual clients, or have verbal clients ask the question to their friend to promote socialization. For individual sessions, clients can drum along or play an instrument with the song until it pauses, and then choose a question.

 

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Heartbeat Instruments: Attention

Materials: instruments, colored hearts taped on instruments

Goals: Attention, color-matching, cognition

  1. MT passes out instruments to each client, with different colored hearts attached to each. 
  2. MT prompts group to listen for their heart color for their chance to play/have a solo
  3. MT sings song to the tune of “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain”

If you have a RED heart play your instrument

If you have a RED heart play your instrument

If you have a RED heart x2

If you have a RED heart play your instrument

  1. MT sings this song until all colors have been done
  2. Adaptations: Provide opportunity for clients to make a choice for what color is chosen next (visual for non-verbal clients)

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I have also used the song “Side By Side” to work on lower body movement (PSE), because this song is great for prompting side steps! For upper body, a great song to use is “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You” because it is in ¾ time signature, making it great for smooth fluid movements! Below are some other song ideas to use for Valentine’s day.

Song ideas for Valentine’s Day:

  • Can’t Help Falling in Love With You: Elvis Presley 
  • You’ve Got a Friend in Me: Toy Story
  • With a Little Help From My Friends: The Beatles
  • Can You Feel the Love Tonight: The Lion King
  • All You need is love: The Beatles 
  • All I Have to Do is Dream: Everly Brothers
  • My Funny Valentine: Babes in Arms
  • Bicycle Built for Two (Daisy Bell)
  • Love Me Tender: Elvis Presley
  • Side by Side: Patsy Cline
  • You are My Sunshine (Valentine)

I hope those ideas give you some inspiration! 

-Audrey Cosgrove, MTI

 

Thanksgiving Themed Session Plan Inspiration!

One of my new favorite ways to plan music therapy sessions is by centering it around a theme. This is especially fun when it relates to a holiday! I have had a ton of fun looking up and adapting music therapy Thanksgiving ideas, and I wanted to share a couple of them with all of you!

One visual that I found for Thanksgiving is this turkey with feathers visual! I love this one because it can be adapted to fit a huge range of interventions! Here is a photo of the visual. I found it on “Speech Therapy Fun”, which is a website where you can sign up to receive free freebies! Here is the link to the website: https://www.speechtherapyfun.com/

 I adapted this to fit the many needs of my music therapy clients. Here are some ideas for how you could use this visual, or how you could create your own to fit your needs!

  • Session Order: Use the visual to order your session plans, while giving clients choice and control over what happens next. To do this, have each feather color corresponds to a specific music therapy intervention that you want to do during the session. By the end of the session, optimally, each client in a group setting would get the opportunity to pick a feather, which is then added to the turkey. For example, the red feather could correspond to a drumming intervention, brown to a sing-a-long, etc. 
  • Working on Colors: There are SO many ideas and examples for how you could work on colors using the turkey and feathers. For example, you could have the client work on naming the colors by singing a song prompting the client to find a specific color and add it to the turkey: 

“Can you find the Red feather, red feather, red feather

Can you find the red feather and put it on the turkey!”

I made up my own tune for this-anything you come up with will work! This is a simple activity, that also requires the client to work on their attention while waiting to hear the next color! This could be adapted to fit a wide range of clients’ needs and goals. 

  • Color Bells: One way to work on cognitive skills such as focus and fjdlsfattention, as well as making choices, learning colors, or an array of other skills could be to use the feathers to write a song with desk bells. The client or therapist would arrange the feathers (Velcro feathers on) to the turkey, and then the client would play through the song as the colors are arranged from left to right. The client could then rearrange the feathers to be any combination, making this a great intervention with endless possibilities! 

Link to desk bells 

  • Working on Social Skills & Asking Questions: For this activity, you could have a corresponding Thanksgiving (or whatever you wanted!) themed question. The client could choose one feather, and then would get the chance to ask or be asked the question. This gives the client a great opportunity to work on asking questions, using follow up questions, and practicing how to engage with those around them, especially during Thanksgiving time! 

Example Thanksgiving Questions: 

What are your favorite Thanksgiving Foods? 

Does your family eat pie on Thanksgiving? What kind?

What are you thankful for this year? 

Lastly, There are some great songs to use for Thanksgiving time. They may be about Thanksgiving itself, the fall season, or songs that center around themes of thankfulness! Here is a list of a couple songs I plan to use in my sessions:

    • What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong (Idea: Songwriting activity about things to be thankful for)
    • Thanksgiving Song by Mary Chapin Carpenter
    • Ida, Sweet As Apple Cider by Bing Crosby
    • Autumn Leaves 
    • Albuquerque Turkey (to the tune of “Darling Clementine”)
    • Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep Irving Berlin Winter Wonderland
    • Over the River and Through the Woods

I hope this post gives you some inspiration for your own Thanksgiving session plans!

-Audrey

 

Session Planning: Using Themes!

Hi there everyone, and welcome to another blog post! 

This week, we’re going to talk themes! Before internship, I never really thought about centering my session around a theme. However, it’s a great option to help plan your session for several reasons which we will break down more later, including…

  1. It can help clients with reality orientation
  2. Centers the session around a specific topic
  3. Helps the therapist narrow down songs and interventions to use 
  4. Educate clients about topics that may be unfamiliar to them

 

  1. It can help clients with reality orientation

Choosing themes to center your session around based off of the current season or holiday is a great way to orient your clients to the here and now (for example, what time of year it is, important events, time of day, etc.). For example, in July, we did summer themed sessions in our older adult groups and at group homes for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. September 23rd was the official first day of fall, so we started doing fall themed session plans that week. During August, we also did a “back to school” theme. There are endless options for themes to incorporate, and the fall/winter is a great time to use themes with all of the holidays, including Halloween, Thanksgiving, winter, etc. 

  1. Centers the session around a specific topic

When starting out as an intern or student, often times, it can be difficult to smoothly transition between different interventions and songs that you use. However, if your session centers around a specific topic, it can be much easier to tie together everything that you are doing in a session. For example, for our “back to school” theme, we first started with a PSE intervention and used the song “School Days”. Afterwards, while you’re getting the next intervention ready, you can tie together the previous intervention by saying something like, “Not only are elementary aged kids also going back to school, but college kids are moving into their dorms and starting back at school too! Something fun that a lot of college students participate in include going to football games and watching the marching band! Let’s get our muscles moving by playing in our own drum circle and making our very own band!” Then, you can smoothly transition into TIMP by doing a drum circle. 

  1. Helps the therapist narrow down songs and interventions to use

So. Many. Songs. To. Choose. From. This is a great problem to have, but can often be quite overwhelming when choosing what songs to use in your sessions! However, if you choose a theme, it immensely narrows down songs you can use that will fit your theme. Google is your best friend when it comes to this. For example, are you doing a fall themed session plan? No problem! Type in “fall-themed songs” into Google, and it will automatically pop up the most popular songs in that category. This also fits into what we talked about above, where it can center your session around a specific topic if you choose songs that fit into a similar category. Some songs that we have used in a summer-themed session plan include: 

  • Summer of ‘69
  • Under the Boardwalk
  • Surfin’ Safari 
  • Hot, Hot, Hot
  • Jump in the Line 
  • Yellow Polka Dot Bikini
  • My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean
  • In the Good Old Summertime
  • Under the Sea 
  • Let’s Go Fly A Kite
  • Summertime
  • Blue Skies
  • Any Beach Boys song!
  1. Educate clients about topics that may be unfamiliar to them

Choosing different themes is also a great way to educate clients on topics that they may not have a lot of opportunities to learn about. For example, we are currently doing a camping theme for our adult groups with ID/DD, which also ties into fall. A lot of clients most likely have not had the opportunity to go camping, so this is another educational opportunity for them to learn something new. For this session plan, I have different visuals that correlate to different interventions, and I allow clients to pick a visual out of a drum, or I hold up two options for them to choose from. This also gives them the power of choice. For example, there is a visual of a picnic table, and then that correlates with our “question of the day”, which asks clients what their favorite camping snack food is. I also facilitate upper body PSE by using scarves as kites, and a movement intervention with a parachute as the “tent”. Afterwards, our visuals each have velcro, and they stick onto a larger visual that makes an entire camping scene. I have included a photo of my visual below:

To make this visual, I printed out and laminated a generic forest background. Then, I googled stock images, cut out and laminated the visuals, and then finally put velcro squares on different parts of the background picture and my visuals. If you want to save yourself some time from making your own visuals, there are already lots of ready-made visuals that you can find on Pinterest or teacher websites! 

Some more examples of different themes you can use for teaching topics include world music, surfing, show tunes, movies, love songs and sports! 

I want to hear from you! What are some themes that you use?

Thank you for reading and see you in the next post!

-Juliana Hsu

Singing

I have been a singer most of my life. I started taking voice lessons in the sixth grade and continued throughout college. Singing has been such a common occurrence of my life. I sing every day, not always well, but there is singing:)

Being a music therapist requires singing, we make many connections with our clients through music, but more specifically singing. Throughout my internship I have learned a lot about how the brain processes music. For example, I find it very interesting that an autistic child may not be able to process spoken directions but sung directions are processed easier in the brain. This shows one aspect of how singing is important within a therapeutic relationship.

Neurologic music therapy has a technique that I find applicable here as well, known as therapeutic singing. Michael Thaut explains what this is in his book, “Rhythm, Music, and the Brain” therapeutic singing is where singing is used to facilitate initiation, development, and articulation in speech and language. This is all accomplished with singing. You can see how important singing can be if so many different reactions are possible and beneficial.

So in conclusion, don’t forget to sing every now and then you never know who is listening.

Beth

Summer Time

As summer in San Diego reaches a peak in July and August, the song “Summertime” is used in many different facilities for a wide range of clients.  “Summertime” is an aria composed by George Gershwin for the 1935 opera Porgy and Bess.  In 1960, Ella Fitzgerald went on tour in Europe, and soulfully delivered the tune.  Ella Fitzgerald performing “Summertime” in Berlin, Germany

A great song for some of the retirement communities is an American Tin Pan Alley song, “In the Good Old Summer Time,” first published in 1902 with music by George Evans and lyrics by Ren Shields.